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REVIEW: The Cruel Prince

REVIEW: The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince 

by Holly Black

4/5 stars

“I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26032825-the-cruel-prince

Jude has been stolen away alongside her twin sister Taryn and older sister Vivienne. As young kids, Vivienne’s biological father kills their parents and spirits them away to the faeries realm under the hill. Treated as gentry, they want for nothing, except that as full humans, they are treated as lowly by peers. Jude decided that one day she’s had enough and fights back against Prince Cardan and his cruel sneers. In an attempt for a power of her own, she is ensnared in a plot for the crown and has to bargain and lie, making choices that will change the path of everyones lives.

I knew I was going to love this book on the basis that A. Faeries B. Holly Black… that’s it, that’s all it took for me to be completely head over heals for this book! The imagery of Holly Black’s faeries are so beautifully crafted, they are human-like but always so creatively different and magical, this book was no exception.

SPOILERS:

The sisters: Jude, Taryn, and Vivi all had very different personalities but all had their flaws and irks. Jude, the main character, is bloodthirsty for a world that she matters, I think her reaction to the world and her circumstances was reasonable, even if some of her decisions and actions I didn’t agree with. I thought her progression into being a killer was a little abrupt and unfeeling, but overall I found Jude was someone I wanted to root for (for now). Taryn drove me crazy, I would have thrown down in a battle with her too! I found her to be a pathetic character, not pathetically written, just pathetic. Her secrecy and wishy-washy feelings was a little confusing, and I hope there is more explanation in the next book to why she is the way she is. Vivi we didn’t get much information from but she filled out the role of big sister very well and I think her character was the most likeable of the three, even being the rebel she was.

The dipwad: Locke, you dipwad.

The princes: We all love bad boys? right? I found that Cardan toed the line between being overly cruel and understandably so given his circumstances. He also flopped to a completely different character when held captive, much more swoon-worthy and less morally repugnant. I am interested to see more of this side of him in the next book, because at the moment he still sounds like a spoiled brat with no depth. Dain… what a puzzle, I was sure he was going to turn out to be evil and he was? I think? He definitely did some bad things, but he wouldn’t have been that terrible of a ruler. Balekin just seems like an altogether awful guy, not only does he keep humans in a horrifying way and beat his brother, he just seems like a bad ruler and horrible choice for the throne. I hope he dies.

The story: The story was a nice flow of action and world-building. I thought some of the transitions were a bit fast and could have been drawn out more, but maybe thats me just wanting more book… I am excited to see what happens next, as much of this books felt like a prequel to the real story. I feel as if The Cruel Prince brushed the surface of everything: characters, plot, story, and I’m hoping theres more in the next instalment.

Overall I enjoyed the book and the story it told immensely and I am ready for the next one, which is out… no time soon.

 

REVIEW: Emergency Contact

REVIEW: Emergency Contact

Emergency Contact

by Mary H. K. Choi

5/5 stars

” “Even so,” she said. “You’re the best person I ever met. And my favorite.” “And you’re mine.” “

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35297272-emergency-contact

Penny, newly starting in university, is excited to get away from her MILF mother and become the Sci-fi writer she has always dreamed of being. Sam is still hung up on his beautiful ex-girlfriend and needs to get his life together. The two of them seem to find themselves by finding each other and they lean on one another, over text of course (because IRL is scary and who needs human contact?), through the hardships they are both facing. This book is laugh-out-loud funny at times and heart-wrenchingly real in others, blending to make a current and familiar story of moving through pain and learning to grow.

It has been a very long time since a book has pulled at my soul the way this one has. It is achingly real and current, the dynamic, flawed characters and the intense relationships that bond them bringing an insight into connections in a digital era and our own insecurities. Each chapter felt like a journey that I was both living in my own life and watching happen to a friend. I think the relationships and concerns in this novel are relevant to everyone growing up and coming to terms with their own pitfalls, which, incidentally happens to be most of the population. Everyone at one point has likely found themselves in a time of loneliness and struggle, held things back from the people around them or pushed people away because it all seemed “too much”. This novel does an excellent job at showcasing the desperate need to lean on others and to open up even if it is terrifying, even if you aren’t particularly close with anyone.

Penny was relatable, I could se myself in some of the decisions she made. She was far from perfect, but unlike some other contemporaries where the flaws make the characters “quirky”, Penny’s flaws made her real. As an individual that keeps everything in her bag from band-aids, to snacks, to lysol wipes, I could relate to Penny’s scattering brain and need for structure. I enjoyed that the texts between her and Sam weren’t flirty or serious, but everyday things that come to ones mind, meaningless and nonsensical. Penny was clearly a character that was continuing to develop even as the book came to a close, not neatly wrapped up with some sort of epiphany at the end, making for a satisfying and hopeful character arc. Sam was much the same, still figuring things out throughout the novel and past the end of the book. I enjoyed that Sam felt like a typical contemporary “bad boy” but in a more realistic way. He wasn’t stereotypically masculine and it was clear that he struggled with self identity among other things, giving him depth. Overall I felt the characters, even the side characters, had very real struggles, not just plot devices, which was refreshing to see in a contemporary novel.

REVIEW: Emma Ever After

REVIEW: Emma Ever After

Emma Ever After

by Brigid Coady

3/5 stars

“The swooping feeling of being on a rollercoaster flew through her and for the first time she wanted to take her hands off the bars and let it take her on the ride.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36006849-emma-ever-after?ac=1&from_search=true

Emma Ever After is a contemporary novel based of Jane Austen’s Emma. In this version, Emma Woodhouse is a planner, a hard worker, and quite the control freak. She manages fake relationships – or fauxmances – at Mega! Management to help build the media coverage and popularity of celebrity clientele. She has a plan to stick to and refuses to deviate from that, even if she might be just a little bit completely in love with her roommate and former boyband superstar George (Gee) Knightly. While on a high profile assignment to set up a boyband with girlfriends she runs into some trouble when the boys refuse to cooperate. Emma tries everything she can to make everyone stick to her plan, but along the way is faced with the daunting ask of looking at her life from a different angle, one that tips her world.

Overall, the novel was very readable, it was light and quick and uncomplicated. I find many contemporaries to be predictable, and since I had already known the story of Emma, this fell under that category as well. However, I found it a nice book to read for relaxing as nothing was too high-stakes. The setting of the novel is in England, but beside the occasional mention for media purposes, there was not a lot of description with the setting. This was disappointing as I would have enjoyed a bit more of a backdrop on Emma’s life, but it did not take away from the story.

The characters and the plot were the focus of this novel. The plot was a little repetitive and tedious but flowed together really well with the events of the story and the timeline of what was happening. I enjoyed that the author decided to address the topic of biphobia within her novel as it is an incredibly important topic and usually overlooked by the general public. That being said, the main character is the one being biphobic most of the time, having a very ignorant outlook on the LGBTQA+ community, therefore some of her thoughts were uncomfortable to read because I did not agree with her. This can be tricky as every reader should be mindful that the characters they are reading about are flawed and not always good examples, as the case is with Emma. I think the author generally handled it well and I enjoyed the end notes they provided that focused on the stigma on bisexual people, but I think there could have been more dialogue and turmoil in Emma’s interior monologue to suggest her dynamic change regarding the subject throughout the novel.

Something that was unfortunate regarding the characters was that Emma was almost the only female in the entire novel and was most certainly the only female with any shred of sense. Understandably, being based off a novel where women had very little agency, there would be threads of that, but I found it to be incredibly disappointing that in a novel about a woman seemingly empowering herself, there would be other women around. I did enjoy that there were LGBTQA+ characters and thought that it brought a lot to the novel, but it seemed unrealistic that all of Emma’s friends were gay or bi men and I would have liked to see more female representation.

 

Overall, I found this to be a very different and unique retelling of Emma and was entertained throughout the novel (if a little frustrated with her character). Reading about the boyband and the way that Emma regarded relationship and the medias purpose within them was really thought provoking and eye opening. The work that she does throughout the novel is important in societies current use of social media and our views on celebrities. It was a interesting, back-stage approach to the media and how our lives and relationships have been affected by social media and the internet.

 

 

REVIEW: Furyborn

REVIEW: Furyborn

Furyborn

by Claire Legrand

3.75/5 stars

“Hot points of energy surged away from her fingertips, like needles stabbing their way out of her skin. The gold flooding the room careened away in spinning whorls of light.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34323570-furyborn

Furyborn is an epic high fantasy that spans a thousand years, from the fall of the great empire to the beginning of the uprising. Two queens were prophesied; one of blood and one of the sun. This novel follows Rielle, struggling to gain control of her immense power and fight against the angels that are breaking their way back into her world. Elaina, a thousand years later, an assassin for hire, goes on an unexpected journey to find her mother who has been taken by a group of elusive beings who have been stealing women and girls away for months. This novel follows both these incredibly strong women in their fight for themselves, those they love, and their world.

The plot/structure: The novel is a dual perspective high fantasy, each chapter switching perspectives back and forth between the two main women. When world building, this can be really jarring and confusing and I found the first bit to be hard to get into as the perspectives were a thousand years apart and thus there were almost two completely different worlds being built at the same time. That being said, this didn’t take away from the content of the novel and the interesting way the events unfolded. After the first bit, the perspective switching was something that kept me engaged, as I was so into both stories.

The characters: Both protagonists were strong women and that was evident right from the beginning. Rielle was complex, trying to push back against all the prejudice against her from a young age. I thought she handled her situation very well and admired her ability to fight for herself and those she loved despite all the challenges she faced. I found Elaina to be strong as well, but in a very different way. Her character was suppose to come off as “badass” but fell a little short and almost came off as unfeeling or psychotic. As the book went on it seemed that her character changed to make her a little more realistic, but those changes seemed to come from nowhere. I enjoyed her kickass nature nonetheless and was excited to see her character develop. The characters I enjoyed the most were the side characters: Evelyne, Ludivine, Remy. I thought they would be interesting to get to know and I was happily surprised by the depth some of them had.

The story: I enjoyed the story quite a lot, though it was similar to some other high fantasy novels I have read, it had many elements that intrigued me. The concept of these angels trying to escape and take over was a terrifying impending doom for the characters. It was interesting that the reader gets the ending before the beginning, the story working toward that prologue. This gave a good connection to the two perspectives but was a tad frustrating, knowing the fate of the characters. I am interested to see what happens in the next book to both of the protagonists.

 

REVIEW: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

REVIEW: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

by Mackenzi Lee

5/5 Stars

“If the Good Lord didn’t want men to play with themselves, we’d have hooks for hands”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29283884-the-gentleman-s-guide-to-vice-and-virtue

Lord Henry Montague (Monty), a lover of revels and vices, is going on his last hurrah, a trip to the continent with his best friend, Percy, and his sister, Felicity. Afterward he is to settle into his role as the eldest son of his house. Only problem is, he is madly in love with Percy and can’t stand to be around his annoying sister. And of course, as any story goes, the plan doesn’t exactly go the way it was supposed to. Filled with awkward moments, hilarious dialogue, the occasional pirate and a few scandals, this novel is a fun trip around Europe.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue had me laughing and swooning from the first chapter, that continued throughout the novel and right up until the very last page. Within moments of beginning the novel, I was hooked. The writing and witty banter made me want to revel in the moment, emerging myself into the story.

SPOILERS

Monty in a self-centered, mess of a young man. He can’t seem to keep himself from trouble, whether its with the drink, the ladies, or the lads, he always seems to get himself into the worst situations. While Monty may not have been someone I wanted to idolize, he had several characteristics that made me love him. The dimples. Yup. the amount of times he whipped those beautiful things out was hilarious, and I will be honest, I would probably have swooned too. He may have been cocky, but there is something very magnetic about a character that loves themselves – even if it may have been a tad too much. His love for Percy, and occasionally Felicity, was a contrast to his actions. Despite his reckless attitude, he truly wanted to be better for his loved ones. Monty was a dynamic, hilarious character that had flaws (a lot of them) and became a living being through Lee’s writing.

The plot was a hilarious road-trip fantasy gone wrong and done right. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about these characters and what would happen next. On top of the wonderfully dynamic characters and scenic setting, the writing flowed with the perfect tone of the novel and rose and fell with the characters and the way the plot was progressing. It may have been a fun read, but sewn into it were some really difficult topics like gender inequality, homophobia, racism, abuse, and illness. It seems that Lee was able to create a world that was fun and engaging by entwining such relevant and pressing societal and economic topics into a somewhat silly narrative. The way it was all handled was done so well and it made for a very real novel and characters that were engaging and easy to relate to.

Overall, I couldn’t say enough about how wonderfully written the characters, struggles, and adventure plot was done. It was a movie playing in my mind that I would read over and over again.

REVIEW: The New Dark

REVIEW: The New Dark

The New Dark

by Lorraine Thomson

1/5 stars

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36184792-the-new-dark

“I admire your passion and convictions, Sorrel, but you are naive”

The New Dark is about a girl, Sorrel, who lives in a apocalyptic forest society that is attacked by mutants. Her people are slaughtered and she is the only one who makes it out alive and well. Other young members of her village are taken by the mutants, including David, the boy she loves, and Eli, her younger brother. She is then thrust on a journey to find them and save them. Presumably…

I received an advanced copy of The New Dark through Netgalley for an honest review of this book.

SPOILERS.

I am going to start off by saying that I wanted to stop reading this book as soon as I started. Everything about this book confused me and jarred me. The concept for this book hooked me at once, mutants and post apocalyptic elements sound great. The world itself was underdeveloped (which I look at below) and not explaining to the reader how the world came to be as it was created confusion. We begin the book with a possible romantic interest story and within moments the entire village is dead without warning. After this jarring moment I was skeptical to continue. This could have been done better by letting the reader know more about the world and its possible threats beforehand so there was a sense of loss and kinship with the main character when this happens. The rest of the novel dragged by in several different places, and with a few intertwining plots. I will examine below some of the elements of the story:

CHARACTERS:

Sorrel:  Sorrel, Sorrel, sweet Sorrel. My good gracious, the amount of times her name was said in this novel was insane. I felt like I was being assaulted by her name alone. She is suppose to come off as a bad-ass female heroine but I found her to be a childish and naive character through her actions. I felt that her “strength” was supposed to be gathered through her ruthlessness and bravado, but that only made her seem more underdeveloped. In the beginning, she survived the mutants my killing them and getting away, but then later on, with the Free, she refused to fight for herself. She spends a great deal of the book whining and seems to have very little emotion and reaction to the things that are going on around her. She has little to no reaction about her mother being killed in front of her and is constantly whining after David. Now, she is supposedly, “in love” with David, but we get about two seconds of them together in which he is skinning bats and she is checking him out, this doesn’t seem like a realistic basis for the love they are suppose to have through the novel. Sorrel is also very unintelligent in many of her decisions and quick judgements, lashing out and making decisions with no backing. Overall, I felt Sorrel was an underdeveloped and childish figure.

David: I had a little bit of hope for David at the beginning, as he seemed to have a little bit more personality and emotion than Sorrel for the loss of his village. However, he tried to escape from the mutants in the same way three times, and ended up getting beaten every time. Though, was he effected by his constant beatings, of course not. He was suppose to be portrayed as strong, but instead, came off as unrealistic. His pining for Sorrel made him seem pathetic, as wishing for her wasn’t going to help his situation at all. Overall, I thought that David’s character was static, but less annoying than Sorrel and their love unrealistic.

Mara: I know that Mara was suppose to be villainous but I honestly was rooting for her more than the main characters. She seemed to be somewhat affected by what was happening to her and tried to blend in so she wouldn’t get hurt. I thought she was an interesting character and wished to know more about her, until she betrayed Sorrel. This moment was a low for Mara, not because I cared that she betrayed Sorrel, but because she was doing it so David would stay with her. Girls pitted against each other over a boy is childish and not really enough realistic motivation to be needlessly cruel. I would have liked to know more about Mara’s motivations.

Martin: This character was gross. The author wanted me to hate him and she did a good job making him about as disgusting as possible. I didn’t really understand his motivation in being cruel but understood enough about his character to root against him, and in that moment, for Sorrel, which was done well.

Einstein: If you are thinking about reading this book, do it for Einstein. This was the only character I really cared about long-term. First, a mutant whom Sorrel is fighting against, turning into a friend who she treats horribly. We find out half-way through the book that the mutant has a name and can speak, and is actually really intelligent. Something I wished I had more clarification with Einstein was his appearance as I couldn’t get a good enough feel for him which may have helped me fit together his place in society and in the book. He makes the decision to trust Sorrel to get them both away from the Free after she treats him in a decent manner. He seems to see something redeemable in Sorrel, his major flaw in my opinion, and they journey to find David and Eli together. I don’t really understand why he is helping her, as it isn’t really explained, since she treats him poorly a lot of the time. He is a very confusing character, but comparatively is the most realistic one in the book.

WORLD

The world is so confusingly crafted I never had any idea where anyone was or how much time had passed. The three main places the story takes place are: Sorrel’s village, Ulbroom (the Free), and around Dinawl, the mutant city. These places are all night and day to each other and switching between them seems like the story had changed to a completely different world. Despite the fact that all of these places are so close, none of them have any knowledge of the others. The readers are given no back story on how the world got to be where it is at and therefore, much of what is happening is confusing and jarring. These places may not interact with one another but they share the same general language and movements, which made me think that the world must be recently apocalyptic, but nothing was explained, so I couldn’t really infer why the members of each society did what they did.

Time was the most confusing element in the entire book. There was so many ‘fade to black’ and ‘days passed’ moments that I never had any sense of how long it had been. Without the solid standing stone of time, the actions of the characters made less sense. It doesn’t explain how long Sorrel is trapped with the Free before she is suppose to marry Martin. We are given a sense that it is a long time, but it does not show in her internal monologue. The inconsistency with travel time bugged me as well. It takes the mutants a supposedly long time to get from the village to Dinawl, but then takes Sorrel and Einstein only a day. The most jarring moment was when Sorrel meets Mara again and refers to her as “her childhood enemy”, as if she has grown up so much, so much time has passed, and she still isn’t a whiny child. I felt jostled through the entire thing, never knowing how much time had passed.

Connected to the characters, the world didn’t explain the existence of the mutants, what their mutations were and why the society began throwing these types of beings out of their village or killing them. The readers little information on the world building meant that it was difficult to get to know the world and care about where the story was going.

WRITING:

Despite the fact that the story was thrown around, too much was going on, and the characters were flat, the writing wasn’t terrible. The conversations and scenes had a good style of progression and the descriptors weren’t horrible. I would say that the author has huge potential but needs a bit more guidance in the story building process.

IN CONCLUSION:

I had a very difficult time reading this book and thought it could have been handled a lot better. The characters were not ones I thought were strong or dynamic and the world was not explained very well. This book was lost potential and what ever the author decides to follow up to this series I hope these holes will be filled as there is plenty of possibility.

 

 

REVIEW: Caraval

REVIEW: Caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber 

4.25/5 Stars

“Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game…”

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27883214-caraval

Wow. This book. Centred around two sisters who just want to escape the harsh realty of their lives and enter a world of magic, this story takes one sister, Scarlett, on a journey to find her sister, Tella, on the crazy game world of Caraval. Using clues she must find, the game take Scarlett through a devious plot where she can’t quite figure out who is real. Wonderfully thought out and beautifully written, Garber take the reader on this game too and has twists and turns that make everything more intriguing.

I thought this book was very well written and the plot was very well thought out. It had a unique twist on a normal carnival where the audience can become a part of the show. This book blew me away with all of the twists and turns, definitely not a predictable novel.

Spoilers!!

So.. If you have read this novel, I hope you are with me in how incredibly devastated I was at the end. The novel was great throughout, with drawing me in and creating the game around Scarlett, and ultimately me. However… The horrible mess that was the ending knocked it down a few pegs for me. Now, I think this was the whole point of the novel, and the ending wasn’t poorly written or anything but I felt like it ended too abruptly for the giant WHACK that I received with the endings truths. Scarlett spends the entire thing going through horrifying experiences, seeing people dismembered, her love dying in front of her eyes, and her sister bleeding out and broken before her…. This girl has just gone through HELL! and then … whoops SURPRISE! No one is dead and it was all just a fun prank, lol. NO! NO!

 

This ending was surprising and twisting, which made it entertaining, but ultimately made me want to curl up and cry. Scarlett is going to have some serious PTSD and trust issues after this and everything ends in a party. I just found the ending to be very unrealistic and maddening for me, though that may have been the point.

This rant being said, I REALLY did enjoy the novel immensely! It was well written and fun to read. I felt like I was a part of Caraval, which was enchanting and confusing. It is a wonderfully written book and I encourage anyone to read it that might love carnivals or fairs. Its also a good book for those who may enjoy Sherlock Holmes and puzzle games, it really makes you think and screws with your mind. LOVED IT!

REVIEW: November 9

REVIEW: November 9

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

4/5 Stars

“Meeting up once a year on the same date sounds like a really good basis for a romance novel. If you fictionalized our story, I’d add it to the top of my TBR”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25111004-november-9

This quote is exactly what happened to me. I have a stack of books on my nightstand so high they fall over from time to time if not set just right, and yet when the library told me that my hold on the Nov 9 ebook was available it went right up to the top of my TBR. I read it in less than a day. There is something so deliciously addicting about Colleen Hoover’s novels. Whether its the beautiful detail or the relatable characters, its REALLY hard to put down her books. I read it on the bus to school, during class break, on the bus back, and while walking up the hill home (almost getting hit by a car because i was walking like a drunkard while reading a particularly intense scene) and while eating supper until the book was done and I was a heap of feelings and covers on my bed.

This novel is about a girl who suffers an accident that derailed her entire life and career at age sixteen. After healing physically, at age 18 she meets a boy who defends her by pretending to be her boyfriend. Despite the fact that she is leaving that night for NY they spend the day together, enjoying each others company. when it comes time to leave they just cant say goodbye, despite not wanting to drag out any long distance communication. They decide to meet once a year on that day, Nov 9 until they are 23. Every year they meet… but as life happens to them both they have to make some tough decisions.

and chaos ensues of course yada yada yada, I’m not crying YOU’RE CRYING!

SPOILERS!!:

Hoover does such a fantastic job at addressing so many relatable topics in her novels, and even a few widely used new adult tropes. In Nov 9 she addresses the idea of “insta-love” and whether or not this is real, it definitely made me think a little differently about how long it truly takes to fall in love with someone. (May have to change that ranting Romeo an Juliet paper for school now..). What I love most about Hoover’s books are her characters. Where most NA books focus heavily on jaded pasts and angsty boys to men, Hoover gives her characters depth. In some NA novels, the back story of a character seems to be put there only as a plot devise to make them angsty, where with characters like Fallon, her difficult past, her scars, are what make her the person she is, and instead of being used as a jaded past, Hoover shows her readers that flaws are human. This makes her characters so relatable.

I absolutely loved Ben. Mostly because he says exactly what comes to his mind at all times and I think thats so admirable. He straight up tells Fallon within half an hour of meeting her that he wants to see her naked, and not as a flirting technique or in a creepy way, but because he is being honest. Even though he keeps a pretty big secret to himself, these little honest moments made me fall in love with him as quickly as Fallon did.

the layout of the novel was also a fantastic element of it. You only got the most important snippets of this love story, sans the brooding and the difficulties of their years. I loved that this story was told through one day each year, because despite it only being one day, and that would be excruciating for the characters, it was nice not to have to read the lulling parts of their lives and skip right to the action.

All in all, Hoover has yet to disappoint me in her novels despite my general distaste for NA. I highly recommend these if you want to be glued to you pages all day or want something as addicting as crack cocaine and don’t mind your emotions going for a rollercoaster while you’re at it.

 

REVIEW: Six of Crows

REVIEW: Six of Crows

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

5/5 Stars.

“There’s always more to lose”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23437156-six-of-crows

There are those books that become instantly popular, Six of Crows being one of them. For me, it was one of those books that I had always meant to pick up but never seemed to make it to the check out. It took me over two year to finish The Grisha Trilogy (finished just this December) because I could never seem to get behind the characters. I feared that it was the writing, so I was afraid to pick up this new duology. Not only that, but this book is so hyped, how could it possibly be as good as everyone says? it cant POSSIBLY be that good? that FANTASTIC? that incredibly SOUL CRUSHING AND MIND BLOWING? but my friends I am here to tell you, OH HELL YES IT CAN! 

This novel follows six incredibly diverse characters and one impossible heist. They are thieves and gamblers, spies and bombers attempting to pull of the biggest con ever known for the prize of money and power. The incredibly complex and diverse set of characters are complemented wonderfully by the intricately built world and eery settings. Bardugo does an incredible job of putting us inside each characters mind and plotting along with them at every turn, only to be constantly surprised by the twist of events.

SPOILERS!!

I think this book is made incredible by so many wonderful things: the setting, the world-building, the imagery, the plots and schemes. etc etc etc… but the best thing Bardugo does is makes this novel revolve around the characters. She creates depth in each character that drives the plot backward and forward in engaging stories that wind together to create this book.

Kaz- I cant even with him. Half the time I’m like “oh my sweet darling baby Kaz what has this world done to you” and the other half I am screaming at him to stahp being so damn cruel. What I love about Kaz is that he blurs the line between hero and villain. He does whatever is necessary, and I mean WHATEVER, to complete his goal of ultimate revenge for his brother death. He oozes with power and cunning cleverness that makes him an incredibly complex protagonist. His actions as the leader drive the stories of each of the other main characters. It is obvious he cares for his friends but has shoved everything so far down to protect himself it can be difficult to see the good. Ps. Him and Inej ASDFKJUG.

Inej- It took me a while to unravel Inej because she both belongs among the thugs and thieves, and yet doesn’t. I admire Inej the most out of any character in this novel, and most novels. She has a good, kind heart and a strong faith that stays with her throughout the HORRORS that have happened to her. Being taken and sold into prostitution is a very real thing that happens in our world, and this makes it so much more horrifying to me. There is a realism placed on Inej because of this issue in our society today and the way that she handles it is admirable. She does what she has to in order to survive and does it with such grace and faith. ps. He and Kaz YAAAAS.

Nina- Oh my. Nina is everything I aspire to be in life. She is confident in every situation she is faced with, an absolute flirt who loves to eat. Everything that might be seen as a weakness is Nina’s strength, and she goes through hell and back, taking a lethal drug to save her friends because she is incredibly loyal. Nina is everything. She uses what might be deemed as “feminine weakness” as her weapon, and on top of it all, she’s curvy and sassy as hell- what is not to love. I ADORE her snippets with Matthias and their banter, they are just toooo cute.

Matthias- A giant Fjerdan with a love for a witch (Nina) and a heavy taste for propriety. It took me a while to warm up to Matthias but I just think of his as a large teddy bear that blushes a lot and can snap a tree with his hands. I love that Matthias’ character gave depth to the world of the Grisha and the customs of their world- and ours. Despite what he had been taught his whole life he was able to eventually put aside his prejudices and look at the world through the eyes of others. And oh man he loves Nina so much, they are so cute together, completing each others personalities so perfectly.

Jesper- For a while I was like, Jesper who? thinking that he was a side character, but there is so much to Jesper’s character. He has an addiction to gambling, which gets him into a lot of trouble, specifically getting him kicked out of school for spending all his money at the tables. Also, plot twist, he is a Grisha Fabrikator, which was super handy while getting the gang out of a few tricky situations during their heist. I love Jes’ ability to ramble and to talk to everyone. I love his relationship with Inej, specifically on the boat talking about Kaz (sigh). Jesper x Wylan 5ever tho.

Wylan- Oh my baby. He has his ups and his downs of course. Most are totally justified considering he is new to the whole “being an outcast” thing and all that. I think it is incredible how well he fits himself into the group, despite firstly being there as a captive. He is incredibly smart, despite not knowing how to read (dyslexia perhaps?) and builds bombs and other science related things that help with escapes and ultimately their heist. He is a sweet little cinnamon roll that should be protected at all costs. ps. Jes is allowed near the cinnamon roll. 

Altogether I could write an entire essay on the merits of this novel. There are so many real world issues addressed in this novel that are so important and maybe one day I will write about them in a formal essay, because I think Bardugo has done an incredible job at making an important, beautiful, romantic, hilarious and spectacular book for all audiences.

Top 8: Ways to Get Out of a Reading Slump

Top 8: Ways to Get Out of a Reading Slump

I was in a reading slump for the last few months, picking up books and reading a quarter of them before putting them down and BAM they’ve probably just instantly made it into the dreaded DNF pile, all because I was in a slump. And just because they are good books didn’t help, I just couldn’t seem to finish a whole book. It was a dark, dark time and I couldn’t see an end…UNTIL I DID! That is the thing with reading slumps, you may not know what is causing them and so all of a sudden the horror is over and you can finish an entire book again.

Here are some methods I find generally work when trying to bust through the brick wall of a reading slump…

  1. Don’t read. Take a little hiatus and maybe take up knitting or something, this way, whatever is causing your slump wont have you waisting book after book in an effort to beat it. Sometime you just have to take a break.
  2. Binge watch a show. Sometimes reading can be tiring, a lot on the mind and sometimes your entire body. Watching a tv-show is like reading without all the effort or exhaustion, if you want to zone out for a while, you can. then when you’re ready for something a little more in-depth, try picking up a book again.
  3. Join a book club. Sometimes reading becomes such a solitary activity that you may feel lonely and slumpish in general. Book club with allow you to still read but with the ability to share with others. Plus it’s incentive to finish the novel so you don’t embarrass yourself.
  4. Go on Bookstagram/ Booktube. Theres nothing that gets me more excited than other people excited about books. looking at all the lovely pictures or videos people make will help remind you why you love reading and may inspire you to pick that book up again.
  5. Re-read your favourite book. This one is my favourite. Read something you are familiar with, because, like watching a show, it requires a lot less effort and concentration but its still a book. This may help you focus on why you love reading.
  6. Write something. Sometimes it’s difficult to read because we are looking for something specific. Chances are if you’re picky, you are not going to find it so instead of reading a bunch of half- books, write down something, it’ll get the imagination flowing again.
  7. Explore other genres. Sometimes it is just a specific genre that is slumping us, even if we may love it. Sometimes in a slump I will turn to romance novels because they are fluffier and easier to take in. Try exploring something new that may pique your interest.
  8. Play a video game. This may not be for everyone but it may allow you to take control of something creative the way a novel can’t give you control. Maybe try something related to a genre of novel you enjoy.

There are countless ways that readers will use to get out of a slump. Some slumps are more persistent than others so patience is the key with this. In my last slump, which I have only just gotten out of, I started and DNF’d five books and it took about two months for me to finally finish a new book. Be patient readers, you love books, that’ll never leave you. Punch your slump right in the throat and head to the bookstore because you can do this!